Reflections after one year of FS ownership
One Year Reflections of a Flying Scot Owner
After racing Lightnings 35 years ago (mediocre racer), and sailing Lasers on a small lake for the last 15 years, my wife and I, rapidly losing our flexibility, but still wanting to sail and expand our sailing, bought a Flying Scot one year ago. For those sitting on the fence or considering whether to buy a Flying Scot, I thought my brief reflections may help. The short answer is, “Buy the Flying Scot.” We really like ours. It serves our sailing wants well.
We considered smaller boats and keel boats, but wanted an easily trailerable and easy to set up day sail boat that we could use on smaller lakes and Lake Michigan, handle ourselves, but could take another couple, could use a small motor, and would have good stability. Yes, sometimes the Flying Scott is a little big for the smaller lakes, and a keel boat would be nice on Lake Michigan, but choosing a sailboat is always a compromise, although the Flying Scot meant very little compromise for what we wanted.
We have not single handed our Flying Scot, although many people do. We have sailed it with just the two of us on smaller lakes and on Lake Michigan with 10-15 mph winds and three foot waves. We’ve have had 5 adults multiple times and even 7 adults once on Lake Michigan in 10 -15 mph winds. The boat handles well in 10-15 mph winds under full sail, and still handles well (We raise the center board slightly to take away the weather helm.) under just the main when the winds get gustier although we still try to stay off the water with really strong winds yet. It was “surprisingly comfortable” with 7 as it really does have a roomy cockpit. (I know that it “seats 8” according to its ads.)
As we’re still mediocre sailors, I would be more comfortable with a keel boat on Lake Michigan with stronger winds, but we’re getting more comfortable with the Flying Scot with each outing. Door County, a common and beautiful sailing destination on Green Bay, is just over a 2 hour drive and 30 minute boat set up to be sailing there while it more than a day and a half sail (or motor) in a keel boat from our home port. The Flying Scot makes this a very feasible day trip. We have the aluminum trailer, and the boat pulls easily behind our Sienna or our RAV4. It sets up so easily with its hinged mast pin, and launches and retrieves so easily from most boat launches that exploring new places to sail becomes fun to do rather than a challenge.
We bought a “near new” boat that was well cared for, and all sails and gear were in excellent shape. Flying Scots are solid boats, so we’ve had no unexpected expenses. While I suspect we would sail slightly more if we kept the boat at a marina, we store the boat in our garage and take it out each time we want to sail. We do save the cost of a marina, but also this allows us to choose where to sail each time we go out. Again set up is incredibly easy so hasn’t deterred us from sailing.
We’ve added a swim ladder and grip to the boat for ease of getting in with the idea of being able to anchor and swim off the boat although so far we haven’t done this.
While likely the purists will be disappointed, I bought a 2.5 Suzuki 4 cycle out board. (See my previous post.) Raising the motor mount board (actually I cut a new board) brought the cavitation plate to the correct level, allows the motor to lock in the up position correctly, and generally keeps the motor from dragging in the water while under sail. I use the “palm device” as describe elsewhere in this forum and so far have had no problem with leaving the motor attached while sailing. While we often could sail to and from the boat launch dock, using the motor takes the “tense moments” away from the most difficult parts of sailing, and the motor sure was great when the wind totally died on Lake Michigan, and we were 3.5 miles from port!!! The boat paddles quite easily also for those “motorless Sundays” on one of our smaller lakes, but 3.5 miles!!! I like my motor and would recommend it for any Flying Scot cruiser.
I’ve made a few things to make set ups, take downs, and trailering a little simpler and quicker, but these additions aren’t really necessary. I made a “mast sleeve,” use the pole wrapping method for the main sail, and after drying the main sail often attach the foot to the boom and slip the boom with the rolled and attached main sail into the sail bag (I added an extension) to make the next set up quicker. I’m toying with a jib downhaul (See previous posting), and for those leisure cruises, added cup holders - Minivans have them!!! Actually I don’t want to drill any holes in my boat so the cup holder are in a “prototype stage” right now, but “clip” into place and work quite well.
Future: Except for a little splash when there are 3 foot waves, the boat is dry, and we hope to sail with jackets on enjoying the fall colors. We’ve not yet used the spinnaker this year as my wife still starts perspiring just thinking about flying the spinnaker on our Lightning 35 year ago in a strong wind during a race (yes, we swam.) However, for cruising, I like the simple, factory set up for the spinnaker, and the Flying Scot spinnaker is only 200 square feet rather than the 307 square feet of the Lightning spinnaker. I’m sure we can handle it. We may take lessons next year to correct our errors and help my wife, and I gain confidence. Likely we will drive to Door County to watch the Flying Scot nationals next summer to check out the different riggings.
In summary, if you’re thinking of a sailboat this size, or maybe even if you’re thinking of a sailboat of any size, I believe you’ll be happy with a Flying Scot. Sure, if racing is your priority, and Lightnings, but not Flying Scots, are raced in your area and you can always find enough for 3 crew, the Lightning is also an excellent boat, but for us, we’re glad we bought a Flying Scot. I’ve not yet joined the FSSA as I’m generally not a “joiner,” but the people at the builders, Flying Scot, Inc., and members of this forum have been great with help, advice, and ideas. Perhaps we’ll join in the future.
Any other comments, reflections?
Thanks and good sailing to all.